Voters told: Choose wisely-A A +A
Monday, October 28, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- Some 54 million voters, except those from calamity-hit Zamboanga City and Bohol, will troop to polling precincts today, Monday, for the barangay polls, and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) reminded them to vote wisely.
Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca, who inspected preparations in Cebu during the weekend, appealed to voters to choose good leaders.
“Ang election ngayon ay mahalaga kasi dito nag-uumpisa ang mukha ng pamahalaan sa ating mga mamamayan (Today’s elections are important because the barangay leaders are our people’s most direct experience with the government),” she said.
Commissioner Padaca and Comelec Central Visayas Director Temie Lambino visited some areas in Cebu on Saturday and Sunday to check on the preparations.
These included SM City Cebu (where special polling places were set up for seniors and persons with disabilities); Barangay Mabolo and Abellana National School in Cebu City; Talisay City, Naga City and Liloan town.
Comelec Chairperson Sixto Brillantes earlier said that they have long been set for the balloting today. “We are ready. There are no more problems.”
He said deployment of ballots and other poll materials was already completed while the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were on full alert status to ensure peaceful and orderly polls in the whole country.
PNP personnel undergoing Public Safety Basic Recruit Course will also be deployed in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) to serve as Special Board of Election Tellers. Calabarzon police will send 361 people to Maguindanao, while Zamboanga Peninsula committed 300 personnel for Sulu.
Moreover, 144 personnel from Northern Mindanao, 204 personnel from Davao Region and 199 personnel from Soccksargen were allotted for Lanao del Sur. The Comelec also implemented a two-day liquor ban, which will end on Monday midnight.
In Central Visayas, about 5,000 police and soldiers will be deployed Monday, except in Bohol Province, to secure the barangay elections. Bohol’s exercise was postponed to November 25, as it was hit by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that has so far killed more than 200 people in the province alone.
The military’s Central Command (Centcom) will also augment the police by deploying less than 1,000 personnel, who were sent off in a ceremony on Sunday.
“So far, there are no major problems. We hope this will continue,” Police Regional Office (PRO)-Central Visayas Director Danilo Constantino told Sun.Star Cebu.
The PNP has already recorded 51 election-related incidents with at least 22 people killed, higher than the 40 cases reported three years ago. [Read the related story.]
Superintendent Danilo Pelisco, PNP-Northern Mindanao deputy regional director for operation, is positive though that the elections on Monday will turn out peaceful not only in Cagayan de Oro City, but also in other areas.
He confirmed to Sun.Star on Sunday that authorities have not received any information or report of groups or individuals who are out to disrupt the electoral process in Cagayan de Oro City.
“We are hoping for the best. We have prepared for this and conferences were held to ensure that all hitches are acted upon so we could have a smooth election,” Pelisco said.
Cagayan de Oro City has a total of 285,645 registered voters, an increase from the 277,931 registered voters in last May’s synchronized local and national elections, Comelec data showed.
In the Cordillera, the PNP and Comelec also expressed readiness for Monday’s polls, saying contingency measures are in place for possible violence and other election scenarios.
Comelec-Cordillera Director Julius Torres said he is positive of peaceful elections in the region similar to the May 13 polls.
For its part, the Department of Energy (DOE) said the country will have sufficient power supply before, during and after the voting period, which is from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The DOE reported that there will be a reserve of 2,304 megawatts (MW) for Luzon, 309 MW for Visayas, and 190 MW for Mindanao.
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said there will be ample power supply during elections, as historically, demand is lower during holidays and weekends than normal circumstances.
“Just like the May 2013 elections, we will appeal to mall operators and manufacturers, especially in Mindanao to control their energy consumption. However, this is rather a contingency measure just in case a problem may arise,” he said.
Brillantes also said they have already completed the deployment of election paraphernalia, as well as the official ballots to all city and municipal treasurers.
“By Sunday, in the evening, mag-start na sila mag-distribute sa mga Board of Election Tellers (BETs),” said Brillantes, referring to the election returns, tally sheets, indelible inks, ballpens, and carbon papers, among others.
The Comelec head reiterated that they needed P3.4 billion in holding the barangay polls but were only given P1.1 billion by lawmakers.
This then forced the poll body to require every barangay to shell out P10,000. This would give the Comelec an additional P420 million.
“So far, we have collected about 45 to 50 percent. It’s about over P100 million,” said Brillantes.
Although the Comelec earlier reset the elections in Zamboanga City and Bohol to November 25, the DOE continues to exhaust all means to restore power in calamity-hit areas. Full restoration of power in Bohol on the household level was expected on Sunday.
A total of 809,136 individuals are aspiring for 294,196 seats, Comelec data show. Of this number, 94,124 filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs) for barangay chairmen while 715,012 are aiming to become barangay councilors.
Election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), meanwhile, was having a hard time getting volunteers to monitor the polls as many of their members are relatives of candidates.
“Siyempre hindi pwede (mag-volunteer) kasi non-partisan dapat,” said PPCRV chairperson Henrietta de Villa.
However, De Villa said she was not worried of this development because the Comelec also accredited One Vote Movement as citizen’s arm. She said One Vote has been coordinating with the PPCRV on how to assist voters and monitor any poll violation.
Meanwhile, Brillantes said they are hoping that the people will vote as early as possible since voting hours is shorter under the manual election system.
“Kung pwede agahan niyo bumoto. Ang voting ngayon is 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. lang unlike nung May elections. Ang reason is manual po tayo ngayon. The counting process will be longer than the automated,” said Brillantes.
The poll chief said they expect a high voter turnout in today’s elections citing the high interest of the voting public.
“Mas malaki dapat kaysa noong May 13. So ang expectations namin dito is about 80 or 79 percent,” said Brillantes.
The elections will be done manually and results may come out hours after the close of polling precincts in over 40,000 villages nationwide. (Virgil Lopez/FP/HDT/With DSM, JKV and RSB of Sun.Star Cebu/Jigger J. Jerusalem of Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/JM Agreda of Sun.Star Baguio/Sunnex)